Sunday, 15 February 2015


My poor dear loyal colyoomistas, are you starting to dread opening this newspaper each week, in fear of another depressing piece from Charlie? Are you longing for those colyooms of yesteryear when I wrote about going down the pub, getting a bit tipsy and making a right fool of myself?

Despite the fact that recent colyooms have concerned themselves with ill-health, exhaustion, suicide, homophobia and insomnia, my life is something that I am grateful for, and while I’m giving thanks, I’d like to reassure those colyoomistas who have recently sent me messages of concern for my welfare.

Thanks to all of you. I am okay. I am not plunged into the darkest depths of depression. Thankfully I have not had a bout of depression for many months, for which I am grateful, but even when I am visited by my Black Dog, I have a most essential and wonderful tool that never fails to bring me relief.

I give thanks.

I don’t only give thanks when I’m down, although it proves a fantastic help when I do.  I give thanks all the time. It’s hardly a startling new concept, and yet as we rush around in the frenzied mad craziness of modern life, it’s so easy to become blinded to the good.

Some regular readers out there might be wondering to whom this self-professed atheist-pantheist Jewish mutant offers gratitude.
Indeed, with such a flippant-sounding mish-mash of beliefs and lack thereof, why should I be taken seriously?

Well, why not?

I am Jewish because my blood is Jewish; my family is Jewish and when the next bunch of Jew-murdering bastards come to get us, they won’t be asking if I believe in God or not. There are millions of secular Jews in the world; just not very many in the West of Ireland.

As far as the apparent paradox of my atheist-pantheist paradigm is concerned, well, it makes perfect sense to me. I do not believe in a monotheistic god. I do not require a written rule book that tells me how to live my life in order that I might earn a ticket into an ‘after life’ because I don’t believe in an ‘after life.’

I believe I am merely an ephemeral speck on the face of the universe, and that if I am wrong, and there indeed exists some kind of great being, they will judge me for my thoughts, deeds and the impact I have made on the rest of the universe.

If He, She or It requires me to bow down, I will most certainly refuse, not because I am an arrogant fool, but because I already live with plenty of humility and require my own self-respect.

We ephemeral specks are extraordinary, capable of creating stunning works of art and terrifying weaponry. Most of us possess enough self-knowledge to understand what kind of speck we are. 

Just as fictional Bond villains and the baddies in Batman are very aware of and revel in their own iniquity, I am pretty confident that I am not a bad person. I make mistakes, upset others and harm myself, but all without malice aforethought and lack of intention.

There’s little so tedious as those with religious beliefs who condemn atheists as people with no morals or ethical codes. Whether I was born with it or have acquired it through socialisation, I have a strong and simple understanding of what is good and just and fair and what is not, and now, in my 55th year, I hope that those whom I have hurt can find it in their hearts to forgive me.

So no, I don’t need the forgiveness of a Higher Power, yet neither do I mock or think less of those who seek the comfort of believing in one. I try my best to spread as much love as I can, cause as little harm as an ephemeral speck might need to and admire all you other ephemeral specks as much as I possibly can.

I am no saint, but then, quite possibly, very few saints were saints.

Some confusion enters the equation with my use of the term ‘pantheist’. While I do not believe in a singular God-like power, I have however often experienced a wondrous oneness with nature; a beautiful balance that exists among the random chaos of the universe. To this there is no order, no governing body, neither guide nor path, just the fact that we are all a part of everything and everything a part of everything else.

This I believe to be pantheism, as described by the wonderful poetry of Walt Whitman, for which I give thanks:

“A vast similitude interlocks all, 

All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, comets, asteroids,
All distances, however wide, all distances of time - all inanimate forms,
All Souls - all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes - the fishes, the brutes,
All men and women - me also...”


For much I give thanks. Indeed, after stumbling from the Dáil Bar a couple of Fridays back, after having attended a ‘leaving do’ for three great characters who were retiring from this Noble Rag. I gave thanks once more.

Back in 1992 I arrived in Galway as a Blow-In and will die as one here. Yet sometimes, on rare and happy occasions such as that night, I feel a part of the place; a deep sense of belonging to and acceptance from a great Galwegian family.

So on that night, as I stumbled slightly whiskey-sodden down a wet and windy Quay Street, I could not help myself.

I gave thanks to the universe.

There is no conflict about being an atheist and giving thanks. Often it aids my mental health.

Sometimes I just want to thank the universe for the West of Ireland, for my wife, my beloved friends and family, both here and back in England.

Life is good, thanks.

©Charlie Adley

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